Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Marquise de Ganges, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


The priest inclined his head as a sign of assent.

So the marquise communicated thus, taking a sacrament that she shared
with one of her murderers, as an evidence that she forgave this one
like the others and that she prayed God to forgive them as she
herself did.

The following days passed without any apparent increase in her
illness, the fever by which she was consumed rather enhancing her
beauties, and imparting to her voice and gestures a vivacity which
they had never had before.  Thus everybody had begun to recover hope,
except herself, who, feeling better than anyone else what was her
true condition, never for a moment allowed herself any illusion, and
keeping her son, who was seven years old, constantly beside her bed,
bade him again and again look well at her, so that, young as he was,
he might remember her all his life and never forget her in his
prayers.  The poor child would burst into tears and promise not only
to remember her but also to avenge her when he was a man.  At these
words the marquise gently reproved him, telling him that all
vengeance belonged to the king and to God, and that all cares of the
kind must be left to those two great rulers of heaven and of earth.

On the 3rd of June, M.  Catalan, a councillor, appointed as a
commissioner by the Parliament of Toulouse, arrived at Ganges,
together with all the officials required by his commission; but he
could not see the marquise that night, for she had dozed for some
hours, and this sleep had left a sort of torpor upon her mind, which
might have impaired the lucidity of her depositions.  The next
morning, without asking anybody's opinion, M. Catalan repaired to the
house of M.  Desprats, and in spite of some slight resistance on the
part of those who were in charge of her, made his way to the presence
of the marquise.  The dying woman received him with an admirable
presence of mind, that made M. Catalan think there had been an
intention the night before to prevent any meeting between him and the
person whom he was sent to interrogate.  At first the marquise would
relate nothing that had passed, saying that she could not at the same
time accuse and forgive; but M. Catalan brought her to see that
justice required truth from her before all things, since, in default
of exact information, the law might go astray, and strike the
innocent instead of the guilty.  This last argument decided the
marquise, and during the hour and a half that he spent alone with her
she told him all the details of this horrible occurrence.  On the
morrow M. Catalan was to see her again; but on the morrow the
marquise was, in truth, much worse.  He assured himself of this by
his own eyes, and as he knew almost all that he wished to know, did
not insist further, for fear of fatiguing her.

Indeed, from that day forward, such atrocious sufferings laid hold
upon the marquise, that notwithstanding the firmness which she had
always shown, and which she tried to maintain to the end, she could
not prevent herself from uttering screams mingled with prayers.  In
this manner she spent the whole day of the 4th and part of the 5th.
At last, on that day, which was a Sunday, towards four o'clock in the
afternoon, she expired.

The body was immediately opened, and the physicians attested that the
marquise had died solely from the power of the poison, none of the
seven sword cuts which she had received being, mortal.  They found
the stomach and bowels burned and the brain blackened.  However, in
spite of that infernal draught, which, says the official report,
"would have killed a lioness in a few hours," the marquise struggled
for nineteen days, so much, adds an account from which we have
borrowed some of these details, so much did nature lovingly defend
the beautiful body that she had taken so much trouble to make.

M. Catalan, the very moment he was informed of the marquise's death,
having with him twelve guards belonging to the governor, ten archers,
and a poqueton,--despatched them to the marquis's castle with orders
to seize his person, that of the priest, and those of all the
servants except the groom who had assisted the marquise in her
flight.  The officer in command of this little squad found the
marquis walking up and down, melancholy and greatly disturbed, in the
large hall of the castle, and when he signified to him the order of
which he was the bearer, the marquis, without making any resistance,
and as though prepared for what was happening to him, replied that he
was ready to obey, and that moreover he had always intended to go
before the Parliament to accuse the murderers of his wife.  He was
asked for the key of his cabinet, which he gave up, and the order was
given to conduct him, with the other persons accused, to the prisons
of Montpellier.  As soon as the marquis came into that town, the
report of his arrival spread with incredible rapidity from street to
street.  Then, as it was dark, lights came to all the windows, and
people corning out with torches formed a torchlight procession, by
means of which everybody could see him.  He, like the priest, was
mounted on a sorry hired horse, and entirely surrounded by archers,
to whom, no doubt, he owed his life on this occasion; for the
indignation against him was so great that everyone was egging on his
neighbours to tear him limb from limb, which would certainly have
come to pass had he not been so carefully defended and guarded.

Immediately upon receiving news of her daughter's death, Madame de
Rossan took possession of all her property, and, making herself a
party to the case, declared that she would never desist from her suit
until her daughter's death was avenged.  M. Catalan began the
examination at once, and the first interrogation to which he
submitted the marquis lasted eleven hours.  Then soon afterwards he
and the other persons accused were conveyed from the prisons of
Montpellier to those of Toulouse.  A crushing memorial by Madame de
Rossan followed them, in which she demonstrated with absolute
clearness that the marquis had participated in the crime of his two
brothers, if not in act, in thought, desire, and intention.

The marquis's defence was very simple: it was his misfortune to have
had two villains for brothers, who had made attempts first upon the
honour and then upon the life of a wife whom he loved tenderly; they
had destroyed her by a most atrocious death, and to crown his evil
fortune, he, the innocent, was accused of having had a hand in that
death.  And, indeed, the examinations in the trial did not succeed in
bringing any evidence against the marquis beyond moral presumptions,
which, it appears, were insufficient to induce his judges to award a
sentence of death.

A verdict was consequently given, upon the 21st of August, 1667,
which sentenced the abbe and the chevalier de Ganges to be broken
alive on the wheel, the Marquis de Ganges to perpetual banishment
from the kingdom, his property to be confiscated to the king, and
himself to lose his nobility and to become incapable of succeeding to
the property of his children.  As for the priest Perette, he was
sentenced to the galleys for life, after having previously been
degraded from his clerical orders by the ecclesiastical authorities.

This sentence made as great a stir as the murder had done, and gave
rise, in that period when "extenuating circumstances" had not been
invented, to long and angry discussions.  Indeed, the marquis either
was guilty of complicity or was not: if he was not, the punishment
was too cruel; if he was, the sentence was too light.  Such was the
opinion of Louis XIV., who remembered the beauty of the Marquis de
Ganges; for, some time afterwards, when he was believed to have
forgotten this unhappy affair, and when he was asked to pardon the
Marquis de la Douze, who was accused of having poisoned his wife, the
king answered, "There is no need for a pardon, since he belongs to
the Parliament of Toulouse, and the Marquis de Ganges did very well
without one."

It may easily be supposed that this melancholy event did not pass
without inciting the wits of the day to write a vast number of verses
and bouts-rimes about the catastrophe by which one of the most
beautiful women of the country was carried off.  Readers who have a
taste for that sort of literature are referred to the journals and
memoirs of the times.

Now, as our readers, if they have taken any interest at all in the
terrible tale just narrated, will certainly ask what became of the
murderers, we will proceed to follow their course until the moment
when they disappeared, some into the night of death, some into the
darkness of oblivion.

The priest Perette was the first to pay his debt to Heaven: he died
at the oar on the way from Toulouse to Brest.

The chevalier withdrew to Venice, took service in the army of the
Most Serene Republic, then at war with Turkey, and was sent to
Candia, which the Mussulmans had been besieging for twenty years; he
had scarcely arrived there when, as he was walking on the ramparts of
the town with two other officers, a shell burst at their feet, and a
fragment of it killed the chevalier without so much as touching his
companions, so that the event was regarded as a direct act of
Providence.

As for the abbe, his story is longer and stranger.  He parted from
the chevalier in the neighbourhood of Genoa, and crossing the whole
of Piedmont, part of Switzerland, and a corner of Germany, entered
Holland under the name of Lamartelliere.  After many hesitations as
to the place where he would settle, he finally retired to Viane, of
which the Count of Lippe was at that time sovereign; there he made
the acquaintance of a gentleman who presented him to the count as a
French religious refugee.

The count, even in this first conversation, found that the foreigner
who had come to seek safety in his dominions possessed not only great
intelligence but a very solid sort of intelligence, and seeing that
the Frenchman was conversant with letters and with learning, proposed
that he should undertake the education of his son, who at that time

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com